Sometimes the biggest buck in the woods doesn’t fall to the person who has the most experience or puts in the most time. Sometimes fate just smiles on people in random places—as was the case for two giant bucks harvested by young hunters this past year.
There is no justice in deer hunting. Some guys hunt their whole lives without ever seeing a true giant whitetail. Then a 210-inch buck walks out in front of an 11-year-old. If that makes you angry or jealous, then you might want to find a sport in which there’s a semblance of justice. But if you are thrilled for the young hunter and excited about a deer that hit the DNA lottery, then you are going to love this story about 11-year-old Reid Rummelhart.
It’s hard for a giant nontypical to avoid attracting a lot of attention. That’s the case with the big buck that frequented the Guthrie County, Iowa hunting area of Rick Rummelhart, his son Reid, Rick’s brother Rod, and Rod’s son Lane. The buck was living near a couple of busy roadways and had been sighted many times by many people. There had been a flurry of people trying to get permission on the area farms to get a crack at this buck, but the four Rummelharts had an ace in the hole: the buck spent a lot of time on Reid’s grandparents’ farm.
The Rummelharts had some background with this buck. Rod had a shed antler from a previous season, and the buck had been captured on a trail camera a few times. Rod named the buck “Root” because the rack looked like a tree’s root wad with the three drop tines. The giant buck was certainly on their minds as the Iowa youth season was approaching.
September 20 was the day of their grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and it would turn out to be special in another way—a day that the entire family would never forget.
Many of the deer on the farm had been using a narrow draw to approach a green alfalfa field every evening. This is where Rick and Reid decided to set up. They chose to sit on short turkey hunting chairs so they would be low to the ground, facing the direction they expected to see the deer approach. They settled in at 5:15 p.m. As time went on, a few does began to filter into the field, and then they heard noises behind them that they thought were deer—but they couldn’t see them.
As the sun hung low in the sky, young Reid was getting fidgety and hungry since he had missed supper. He asked how long they were going to stay. Rick informed him that sunset, the end of legal shooting time, was 7:28 p.m., so they decided to stick it out. Soon they saw legs below a cedar tree only 60 yards away. They couldn’t see the entire deer, and when the huge buck walked out behind a small knoll, all Reid could see was the head, neck, and line of the deer’s back. “I didn’t know how many points it was, I just knew it was big,” Reid said. “I thought it was a big 10-pointer or something so I didn’t even get buck fever.”
They were waiting for a shot at the vitals when the deer behind them started snorting and running off. It might have been the wind, or it might have been Reid trying to get in position for a shot with the shooting sticks, but the deer behind them were leaving and they might take the big buck with them. The giant buck stretched up his head and looked around, trying to see what alarmed them. “I asked Reid if he could shoot the buck right at the base of the neck,” Rick remembered. “He said he thought he could, so I told him to shoot the buck. At the shot, the buck just dropped out of sight.”
Reid has shot one doe previously, so he wasn’t really prepared for what he was about to see when he walked up to the buck. “I was really surprised and really excited!” He said the attention he has received over shooting the buck has been “pretty cool.”
The buck that showed up on Kellen Binger and his father Tim’s trail camera in July 2013 was big. They have permission to hunt a piece of property 45 minutes from their home in Madison, Wisconsin, where they plant food plots and do what they can to attract and hold mature bucks. One other person has permission to hunt the property, and unfortunately this person accidentally caused the buck to leave.
“He was rattling at a buck he could see,” Kellen said, “when the big one came in from the side and caught the movement. That spooked him and we didn’t see the buck for the rest of the year.” But in July 2014, there he was on camera again, and he was even bigger. When 16-year-old Kellen put the buck on the ground, the deer would turn out to be a giant main-frame 10-point with one extra tine that would score 195 gross typical and net out at 182 typical. The mass on this buck is what first grabs your attention, then the tine length and width.
But for a unique string of circumstances, this buck wouldn’t have been lying on Kellen and Tim’s garage floor.
“I have a rare genetic disease.” Kellen told me. “When I was in second grade I needed a kidney or I would have died. My dad was my kidney donor.” Kellen was really into hockey until the 8th grade, when they allow the kids to fully play the rough game. When the checking started, Kellen had to give it up because it was just too dangerous for him. That’s when he made the commitment to become a serious deer hunter.
On Saturday, October 4, the buck showed up in front of Tim and once again Kellen’s father made a sacrifice that would benefit Kellen. The buck was in and around the father-son team’s turnip food plot long enough for Tim to get a good look at him, but the buck never presented a shot Tim would feel comfortable taking, so he elected to hold off for a better opportunity.
That opportunity would come on Wednesday, October 8. The stand was the same, but the hunter was different. “It’s so ironic that I had texted my dad that it was so windy I was just wasting my time; it was super windy, then I shot the biggest buck of my life.”
“The buck showed up at about 6:20 and was around me for 10 minutes or more and I was shaking like a leaf. I filmed him but couldn’t get a shot for a long time. Finally at 6:30 I saw a shot opportunity and when I drew back to my anchor point, a calmness came over me. I double-lunged him and he ran off and disappeared into some set-aside ground.”
At 7:45, Kellen and Tim found plenty of blood to follow and the buck was lying only 50 yards away. Kellen says, “I can’t even describe the feeling I had, I was speechless.”
He’s been the center of attention among the hunters of the area and he is relishing the moment. “One of my friends shot a 160 buck and I was super jealous of him. Now everyone’s jealous of me!”
Follow Bernie’s bowhunting adventures on his blog, bowhuntingroad.com.